IRVING, Texas – Brandon Carr wasn't interested in the phrase "shutdown corner," but he certainly seemed pleased with his performance Sunday night.
Given the task of matching up nearly exclusively with Pierre Garcon', Carr held the Redskins' top receiver to six catches on 15 targets for 69 yards and no points. It was a strong for all three Cowboys corners in the 31-16 win, as Washington's wideouts combined for just 147 yards and no touchdowns.
"It's all about – coach talks about it all the time -- winning the one-on-one matchups. Just do your job, be accountable, go out there and play within the framework of our defense," Carr said. "But those plays you're supposed to make, you have to go out there and make them, and those are difference-makers in the ballgame."
Plenty of conversation has revolved around Morris Claiborne this season, and perhaps that's because quarterbacks are hesitant to target Carr in coverage. Before he harassed Garcon, Carr matched up with Denver's top wideout, Demaryius Thomas, in the Cowboys' Week 5 loss to the Broncos.
It's true the Broncos gauged Dallas for 51 points and 500 yards, but Thomas managed just 57 of those on five receptions against Carr.
"He has some physical traits that are hard for receivers to get away from," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "He's big, he's long, he's strong, he can run, and he can make plays on the ball like we saw last night."
It's a bit of a departure from what's expected in defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2 defense, though. The scheme traditionally calls for plenty of zone coverage by its cornerbacks, but any Dallas defender can tell you the Cowboys have played plenty of man defense this year. It can only be encouraging when the opportunities to play man work out well.
"We're going to give him chances to do that," Garrett said of Carr. "Every time we have, he's stepped up and done the job."
Regardless of scheme, Carr said he feels fine matching up with one receiver or rotating, depending on what's called for.
"We're changing things up, just trying to find our identity – just trying to put us in the best position to make plays and win ball games," he said. "We match up sometimes; sometimes we don't, just depending on their personnel – just who they have and how they're attacking us."
The Cowboys would no doubt prefer it if that identity looked more like Sunday night's performance and less like the Denver game. Carr and Claiborne accounted for multiple bat downs against the Redskins, and Orlando Scandrick added an interception in the win. [embedded_ad]
"When you do that across the board and limit the opportunities for them to throw the football, it was a really positive night for our pass defense," Garrett said.
It remains to be seen what the plan is going forward for Philadelphia. Carr said the defense hadn't finished its full gameplan for the Eagles as of Monday evening, merely a light scouting report, but the six-year veteran already has an eye on Philadelphia deep threat DeSean Jackson. "He's a dynamic player – he's a playmaker," he said. "He always finds himself behind defenders in the pass game, and that's a guy you definitely can't go to sleep on."
Jackson is presently on pace for a 1,500-yard season, not to mention 13 receiving touchdown. The speedster is averaging 17 yards per reception, and he has really only been neutralized once this season – in the 32 point loss to Denver.
If he's called on again to man up, Carr said he's welcome to the challenge.
"It's a compliment, and it's a great challenge for me. I've been working, trying to get to this level for six years now," he said. "I'm still a work in progress, but I'm just down for any task or any challenge they present to me – any receiver they tell me to go out and try to cover."